Dear Allison Adair

Dear Allison Adair,

I sat with my dog, Radu, on the porch as news of the latest school shooting swarmed my screens. To his credit, Radu happened upon a dead beetle and batted it about with his valiant paw as I tried not to think about the tiny sliver of time that exists between living and dying, or the speck between life and death when shaped like a bullet. But that thin, thin line kept curling itself into parentheses. 

Of course, my kids are at school—and the news intersects with the possibility of the unthinkable, which seems less unthinkable given the increasing frequency of mass shootings. When pandemic laws permitted my son to return to school in-person, his first day back included a school shooter drill. This is both irrelevant and random, since it happened a few years ago, and the randomness resembles the non sequitur of an unprocessed flashback. 

What do we risk in proximity to the pain and fury of strangers? 

I don’t know how to touch this unspeakable, overfeeling thing — or how to palpate this thing-ness with words, in this stylized vessel known as language. 

Mired in my discomfort, I re-read your “Letter to My Niece, in Silverton, Colorado”

Although technically a poem, it feels as if this form could be a flash, or a creative nonfiction, or a different genre. Maybe the epistolary is written first and genre’d later? 

Because you only italicized one line, the italics have a resplendent effect that ripples throughout the text. Like a bullet. Or something that keeps moving and changes the world completely. I’m saving this lesson of how to use italics—and how to lean into a personal epistolary in order to address a difficult subject.

Another overfeeling thing, always,